Dispelling the Vegan Myth

Almost nothing pleases me more than feeding tasty organic, vegan food to people who think they hate organic, vegan food. Or even to people who are simply picky bird-like eaters. Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to do it again and it got me thinking about how important my food philosophy is to my identity. I thought it might be an interesting topic for discussion here.

[caption id="attachment_406" align="alignleft" width="168" caption="Photo from lolpix.com"][/caption]

We're all familiar with the vegan myth, although I'm betting some of you still think it's the truth. The vegan myth is the belief that vegan food (and sometimes merely “healthy” food in general) is just rabbit food. It's inherently flavorless, mealy, boring, unsatisfying and unappetizing. If you've ever checked out the photos on FoodGawker.com, maybe you've been convinced that it can be at least eye-catching, but how food looks is only one small part of the experience, obviously.

Any type of food can suck if it's not prepared properly or with poor quality ingredients or by someone who simply doesn't understand food magic. However, many people think that it's not possible for vegan food to be amazing and delicious, and that's the myth I live to dispel. Luckily, my diverse collection of friends and acquaintances give me plenty of opportunities to do just that. That makes feeding vegan food to non-vegans one of my favorite pastimes.

On Saturday, I had the great pleasure of spending time with a dear, dear friend who currently lives on the opposite corner of the continent. We've known each other for about 15 years, so you could say we know each other well. She's the kind of girl who can and will eat anything she wants, including a bag of cheese curls at 4am, just because. As she snarfed down the last bite of the Tofu Benedict I made for her, she confessed to me, “I never finish anything.” And then she licked the plate. This is the sort of thing that makes me just beam.

Lee, my conscious omni partner in crime, made another observation about how my food is received by non-veg types. Thinking about several of the holiday potluck events we attended, he explained that most non-veg people he knows are so skeptical of vegan food that they would either refuse to try it, or they'd ask, “That's... (pregnant pause, fearful gulp)... vegan?” before they gave it the teensiest taste. We've all seen that approach, I'm sure, and it breaks my heart a little every time. However, my food doesn't net that reaction and hasn't for a long time. Typically, my dishes are preceded by my reputation. When it comes to potlucks, I am “the girl with the amazing food” first and “the vegan girl” second. So, as Lee observed, when non-veg people taste my food, their reaction is completely different. They inquire, I explain, they taste, and their eyes open wide with delight and amazement. They say, often with mouths full, “That's VEGAN?! No way! It's too good!” and then proceed to stuff their faces.

I'm in heaven.

On Sunday morning, when I fed coffee w/ soy milk and a black bean brownie to my out-of-towner for breakfast, she shed more light. She told me about how she was always up for trying vegan cookies and such, but that she'd been disappointed so many times because they weren't moist enough, they fell apart, or just didn't taste like she wanted them to. I'll admit, I had to repeat “black bean brownie” to her several times before her brain could process it, but once she bit in, she ooh'd and aah'd and I felt a little sad that I'd just given her the last brownie in the house. So, when she left, I packed several coffee chip muffins (a la Vegan Brunch) in a sack for her journey homeward. I'm fairly certain none of them made it to the east coast.

These are a few of my favorite things.

...Coming next on the blog: How to Cook Tofu and other things Lee is learning on Meatless Mondays!

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